October 27, 2020

Mississippi earns three spots on America’s camellia trail

Mississippi has earned the distinction of having three public gardens designated on the American Camellia’s Scoiety’s annual trail program.

The Natchez National Historical Park’s Melrose estate in Natchez along with the Eudora Welty House and Gardens in Jackson and the Mynelle Gardens Arboretum and Botanical Center in Jackson are part of the “American Camellia Trail: Coast to Coast Camellias.”

The American Camellia Society, a national organization devoted to expanding the knowledge and appreciation of the camellia flower, produces the American Camellia Trail brochure.

The American Camellia Society created the American Camellia Trail program to promote public gardens with a minimum of 50 species of camellias and the brochure is updated as significant camellia gardens are discovered.

Part of the reason Melrose estate was added to the American Camellia Trail list, said Kathleen Bond, superintendent of the Natchez National Historical Park, is because of a detailed cultural landscape report and documentation of the camellias.

“For the landscape, we have really good documentation, because the Kelly family who moved in around 1901 had panoramic cameras,” Bond said.

The Kellys made many photographs of the grounds that were used in the Park Service’s planning documents to create a cultural landscape report for Melrose, Bond said.

“That document looked at all the sources that were out there to try and figure out what the history was of the gardens and grounds of Melrose,” Bond said. “Those panoramic photos were great evidence.”

Bond said the camellias have turned out to be an added bonus to the Park Service’s ownership of Melrose.

Bond said area camellia organizations have been helpful with the project.

“The Brookhaven Camellia Society has been very generous in coming over and bringing experts to help us identify our varieties of camellias and to give us advice on how to take care of them,” Bond said. “Melrose has a beautiful garden and there is no entrance fee so anybody can come and walk in the garden at anytime between 8:30 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.),” Bond said.